Work is not your social life.
As I have written about before, I have never been a particularly popular guy. But by improving social skills, my coworkers actually seemed to enjoy my company.
Due to my lack of friendship experience, I latched onto this. I doubled down. I spent a lot of time catching up with people at work. Trying to be friends with them. I was enjoying the feeling of being a part of people’s lives and having them be a part of mine. But there was a problem.
“You are the average of the five people you most associate with.”
After hearing Tim Ferriss repeat this over and over again, I started to apply it.
We have a great group at Everproof, but we are a small, young team. You can only fit so much diversity, knowledge, and skills into such a small team. The knowledge and skills we have are very much tailored to making the company succeed. Not to make us the best people we can be. For that, we need others.
An exception to the rule above is that you don’t have to know the people. You could read, listen, or watch their material or even material about them. So I figured I could pick these people by selecting books and podcasts.
I have removed a lot of the regular catch-ups I was having with people at work. What remains is time well spent with the team, and I now have more time to get the knowledge and skills I desire.
I now spend roughly 5–10 hours a week socializing with people other than my partner. In my 112 weekly waking hours, that’s 4%-9%. This is excellent from a productivity standpoint, but not so good for many other things.
Firstly, I often struggle to complete sentences when speaking. I get stuck trying to the think of the right word. Much more than my peers. This issue seems dependant on a few different things. The chief of which appears to be the amount of time I spend speaking with people. It makes sense, less practice, less performance.
Secondly, it’s lonely. I would generally consider myself an introvert, but I need more than 5%.
Finally, mentors are much more potent. Books, podcasts, videos, etc. are excellent sources of knowledge. What they are missing is being tailored to you. A good mentor will know what you need and when. They will help you in a way that best matches your needs.
So what to do from here?
I need to build a professional and personal network. I need people in my life who I can share hobbies with. I need people in my life who can help me grow. I need people in my life who can support me so that the entire burden doesn’t fall on my partner.
I need to make a concerted effort to make friends outside of work.
So how can a 24-year-old software engineer with a barely measurable social life do this?
Well, because I’ve been alive for 24 years, there are many people I have been in contact with in the past. People I’ve neglected moving forward. So I plan to reconnect with people from my past.
Also, as low as the number may be, there are people I am in contact with now. People I don’t know anywhere near as well as I could. People I could spend more time with. So I will attempt to do this too.
And to meet new people, I will also attend meetups and events. Sometimes even on my own. I may not always have the courage to speak to new people, but I wouldn’t even have the opportunity if I stayed home.
I’m glad I had this revelation. Another step in attempting to work out how work fits in with my life. I’ve seen many others in my position, where work is their only social outlet. I hope they too can work this out. Perhaps some will be inspired by this article.
I’m excited to have friends, to have a network to help me be the best I can be. I hope you do too.
I wrote this article for a series my partner and I are doing called: Prompt of the Week.
Each week we draw a prompt out of our jar and write an article about it. We read each other’s article then record a podcast discussing our thoughts.
This week’s prompt was: Work
My partner’s take on the prompt: https://medium.com/prompt-of-the-week/can-i-get-more-out-of-my-shitty-job-than-money-3bf0ca0d7974